We took the opportunity to emigrate to Australia in 1991. It was a natural and mutual decision ‘to go neutral‘ between a Dutch and a Pommie.
After all we met ‘Down Under’ as back packers. In Alice Spring of all places. We both loved Australia and it seemed therefore a natural choice. The Australian Embassy thought we ticked all the boxes and granted us our permanent residence visa for skill migration within 6 weeks.
We moved to Sydney into a Kings Cross hostel and both had a job after 2 weeks. I actually found one in the first week! We stumbled upon a better place to live through a little ad stuck on a lamp post. This was in Darlinghurst and we ended up living in the same street where a 24 year old Bill Granger started his first cafe called Bills.
For non Aussie readers, by now Bill Granger is a famous Australian and international cook book writer and chef. Our kids love his chocolate chip cookies and page 111 of his ‘Sydney Food’ cook book shows how much we have used the recipe!
Growing up in Australia
Looking back our first 5 years in Australia were the best. We were living close to the beach and Yasmin, our first daughter’s playground was Bondi beach. She did her first steps on this beach and she built countless sand castles and tunnels. As a kid she really had the best of Australia.
She was the toddler who ran fearless into the surf on Bondi Beach, wearing a sun suit, a hat and no nappy. Much to the surprise of the swarms of Japanese tourists who happily snapped countless photos of her.
Zoe, our second, on the other hand got a worse deal. By then we had moved to Brisbane, we were not that close to beaches and the climate was hotter. It was silly to go outside to a park between 10 and 3 as skin cancer would be lurking around the corner.
If we headed for a beach, usually on the Gold Coast, we would be there at 7 am in the morning and leave by 10.30am. The ironic thing was that Zoe hated sand when she was a baby.
The necessity of a pool
If you happen to have a pool in Brisbane, summer is definitely more bearable especially for children. Funnily pools are less popular with teenagers. In general parents feel they maintaining an expensive toy for nothing during these years.
Many houses in Queensland have a pool. We never had one as our house was on a hill. The costs of putting in a pool on such a site would have been horrendous. Our investment property at Coolum beach did have a pool but our tenants were the ones who enjoyed it, not us.
We sold our Coolum house in January 2005 and had the opportunity to enjoy the house throughout that summer. It had gone to auction in the beginning of December 2004 but did not sell.
We had to wait until mid January to start marketing it again. The house got an offer, exchanged in February and as a result we had the use of it for the whole summer. We slept on camping gear, we hired a fridge but we had for a short while a house with a pool near the beach……!
An opportunity not taken….
I have often wondered how life would have been if Keith would have applied for a certain job in the nineties. It was a job in Coolum Beach as an IT programmer for the Hyatt Hotel. I had never even heard of the town at that time. In the end Keith dismissed it as he thought it might not be a good long term career solution.
An then years later we bought a house in Coolum. We did well as the price doubled in 3 years. Just sometimes, but only sometimes, I am curious how our life would have been if we would have taken that step to move up there in the nineties…….
Another place we let slip by was Perth. After Sydney got the Olympics it all felt wrong there and we decided to go to Perth in the late nineties. At the time Keith was a ‘Year 2000 Guru’ and instead we ended up going to UK for a couple of years to milk that skill.
Our opportunity overseas albeit temporary
His guru status dissipated rather fast as nothing particular happened when ‘time moved into the 21st century’. Because of this opportunity though, we were able to see much of Europe. As a matter of fact Zoe managed to see 13 countries in her first year. She cringes when I mention this as off course she can’t remember a single thing of it!
She even spent two long European summers on a couple of Greek Islands – Leros and Rhodos. Again no recollection at all. Zoe was the little blond baby with the Greek name meaning ‘life’. She was hugely popular with the Greek ladies dressed in black.
Great times but also stressful times. We actually emigrated backwards and forward from Australia to Europe two times in a year partly driven by opportunity but also by despair. You get seasoned by experience but still the question arises:
‘ What exactly makes you move and what keeps you at bay?’
This brings me to a couple of next topics I like to explore. When you dream and think of moving to another town or country, what are the factors in the end that make you go or not? How many people out there are contemplating making a move but never do. Why not?
If you have anything to say, please let me know. I love hearing stories from other people.
See you next time!